Rise in children biting caused by screen time and parents having less time to read, nursery workers say

A new poll has revealed a rise in the number of children biting [Photo: Getty]
A new poll has revealed a rise in the number of children biting [Photo: Getty]

Children are biting others because their parents do not have enough time to spend talking and reading to them, nursery workers have suggested.

While many parents might assume biting is simply a phase their little ones will grow out of, experts believe there could be more behind the behaviour.

Youngsters who spend too much time in front of screens can struggle to communicate and express their emotions, it was suggested.

As a result, they become frustrated and bite other children or nursery staff, experts explained.

The warning came as a poll of 1,000 nursery owners, managers and workers found that around a quarter (27%) say they have seen a rise in the number of children biting in the past five years.

The research, by, found that more than three in five (62%) of those questioned said they often have to deal with children biting in their nurseries.

READ MORE: Mental health warning over children as young as two accessing social media

Sue Learner, editor of, said the findings were “extremely worrying” and that children tend to bite “when they don’t have the language to express their emotions”.

“Our findings resonate with other studies which have found an increase in the number of pre-school children with poor language skills.

“Too much screen time and the pressures on working parents, which means they are not spending time talking to their children, have been blamed for the rise in children’s problems communicating.”

She urged parents to try to up the time they spend reading and talking with their children.

“Family life is so busy but it is vital parents take time to sit and chat with their children and read books to them so they develop good language skills at an early age. Otherwise it is nurseries that are having to pick up the slack.”

Learner went on to cite a recent study by the Booktrust, which indicated that some parents are using technology such as home assistants like Amazon’s Alexa, apps, video messaging and voice notes to give their child a night-time story.

“Reading books to your children and spending time talking to them builds their confidence, curiosity as well as their language and self-esteem,” she argued.

“It is no wonder there is a rise in children biting at nursery due to them getting cross and frustrated over an inability to communicate as well as it being a cry for attention.”

READ MORE: How to tell if your child’s screen time is a problem

Nursery workers believe biting could be linked to a lack of time spent reading and communicating with children [Photo: Getty]
Nursery workers believe biting could be linked to a lack of time spent reading and communicating with children [Photo: Getty]

Stella Ziolkowski, director of quality and training at the National Day Nurseries Association said that biting is part of children’s development, and that it is important nursery workers understand why youngsters bite as they are likely to deal with it at some point.

“There are many reasons why a child may bite another, young children who cannot talk or articulate their feelings can bite as a form of communication,” she said.

“It’s a way they can express difficult feelings such as anger, frustration or fear.”

But she also pointed out that babies and toddlers can also bite to help relieve teething pain, while some youngsters may be imitating others, doing it to get attention or acting in self-defence.

The amount of time children are spending on screens is a contentious issue. So much so that some parents are turning to drastic measures to get their kids to stop looking at their phones and tablets, with a quarter actually paying theirs to stop.

There have been some conflicting opinions about the impact of screen time on children’s health and wellbeing and how much screen time is too much.

Earlier this year, parents were told to worry less about the effects of screen time as there is little evidence that it’s harmful to children.

Instead, new guidance from leading paediatricians suggests that parents should run through a checklist to monitor the impact screen time is having on their children.

But back in September new research has proven that more than two hours of recreational screen time a day could seriously affect a child’s learning.